Portugal Road Trip Itinerary For 10 Days
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Welcome to the oldest country in Europe. Portugal is located on the Iberian peninsula. Together with Spain, it attracts visitors with some of the most unique places, rich history, culture, and delicious food. We’ll explore its hidden gems during our road trip, drink a lot of coffee and wine, visit religious sites, natural wonders, and sunbathe on its southern coast close to Africa.
You can easily do this itinerary also by train. Still, to be more flexible, I recommend renting a car in Porto and enjoying the country on your own terms.
It’s time to explore this beautiful land with our Portugal road trip itinerary in 10 days.
Overview Of Portugal Road Trip Itinerary For 10 Days
- DAY: Porto
- DAY: Porto & Duoro River Valley
- DAY: Porto ⇒ Viana do Castelo
- DAY: Viana do Castelo ⇒ Fatima
- DAY: Fatima ⇒ Lisbon
- DAY: Lisbon
- DAY: Day Trip to Sintra & Cabo da Roca
- DAY: Lisbon ⇒ Portimao
- DAY: Portimao ⇒ Carvoeiro ⇒ Benagil Beach ⇒ Armação de Pêra
- DAY: Armação de Pêra ⇒ Faro
Interesting Facts About Portugal
- Portugal is the world’s largest producer of cork
- Piri-Piri sauce comes from Portugal
- It’s home to one of the most important pilgrimage centers, Fatima
- Portugal used to own a large part of the New World and was a very powerful country thanks to its sailor’s expedition (Vasco de Gama & Fernão de Magalhãesa were the most famous)
- Fernão de Magalhãesa is believed to be the first sailor who made a journey around the world
- Portugal is the surfer’s paradise
- It has beautiful beaches, but the sea/ocean is actually freezing
Without further facts and words, let’s head to explore this interesting country with our Portugal road trip itinerary in 10 days.
Europe Travel Checklist
Before you set off for your Portugal adventure, there are a couple of things you’ll need to manage. Here are the top essentials for you to think of before traveling to Europe/Portugal:
- travel insurance
- car rental/train pass/tickets
- book a flight
Travel Insurance For Europe
Choosing travel insurance can be doubting. So I’ve done extensive research for you on the best travel insurance for Europe. Check out my article for a comparison of the best 3 travel insurance companies, so you can choose for yourself.
Car Rental/Train Pass
You’ll need to decide whether you want to do this itinerary as a road trip and rent a car in Portugal, or travel by train. If you want to rent a car, check out Local Rent company for the best deals.
For private transfers, check out Get Transfers. They offer reliable transfer services within Europe. Especially if you travel in a small group, it can be a good deal to book with them.
In case you decide to make this itinerary by train, I suggest getting an Interrail or Eurail Pass. Both enable you to travel for a certain number of days within a month or two throughout Europe. You can select the number of days and countries, and it gets much cheaper than buying a simple ticket.
If you decide to buy single tickets, check Trainline company. I always use them to search for and buy train tickets as they can reduce your fares significantly.
*Note that it’s much easier to do this itinerary with a car. Simply because you won’t get by train everywhere.
Book A Flight
Another thing you’ll need to do is to book a flight ticket.
Use flight aggregators to check the top flight deals. They gather information and all flight tickets from airlines around the world and select the best deals for you. Among the best are Skyscanner, Hopper, Kayak, and Priceline.
After you see the results in their search engines, I recommend going to the website of the particular airline they showed you. Check on the airline site for how much they offer for the same flight ticket.
If the price is more or less the same, book directly with the airline (simply because it’s easier to communicate with them if issues happen during your journey). If a flight aggregator has a much cheaper ticket, book with them.
Passport & Visa
Check the expiration date of your passport. Most airlines don’t even take you on board if your passport expires in 6 months. Avoid issues with boarding and on the road. Make sure your passport won’t expire in the next 8 months. Think about how long you’ll travel as you still have to come back home with the passport.
Lastly, check if you need visa to Portugal. One of the best site for visa pre-check is iVisa. They also inform you about other necessary documents you might need to travel to Portugal.
When you go through this Portugal road trip itinerary, you’ll get accommodation tips from me in each place/city. So just scroll down and find the best hotel deals and beautiful accommodation spots in each day.
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 0. DAY: ARRIVE IN PORTO
We’ll start our Portugal itinerary in the second biggest Portuguese city, Porto. It’s also one of my favorite cities in Europe. And I am sure you’ll fall in love as well.
Stunning bridges and views, River Douro dividing old parts of the city, the best wine, and delicious food, that’s what Porto is all about. So let’s explore it during the next two days.
Interesting Facts About Porto
- Dessert wine Porto comes from Duroro River Valley and River Duoro flows through Porto
- One of the bridges in Porto was designed by Gustave Eiffel
- The city was never conquered and therefore got a nickname ‘Invicta’ (in Portuguese language: ‘que nunca for vencido’)
- The Latin name for Porto is ‘Portus Cale’, from which the entire country, Portugal, was named
- The citizens of Porto are called ‘Tripeiros’: when soldiers went on an expedition to conquest Ceuta (which is nowadays a Spanish autonomous community in northern Africa), locals in Porto brought everything they had to support them, including meat. Eventually, residents only had Tripe for food. As a result, others started to call them ‘tripeiros’, and they accepted this nickname with pride
Where to stay in Porto: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 1. DAY: PORTO
Today, you’ll have the chance to explore this wonderful city. On the next day, we’ll make an excursion to the Douro River Valley, tasting some delicious wine.
For now, let’s head to the city.
Sightseeing in Porto
- Igreja do Carmo
- Livraria Lello
- Clerigos Tower
- Sé do Porto
- Claus Porto
- Palácio da Bolsa
- Cais da Ribeira
- Luís I Bridge
- Mosterio da Serra do Pilar
- Sandemas Museum Cellar
We’ll start our walking tour of Porto in the northern part of the city and slowly make our way down to the Ribeira district and Douro River. Follow the sights as you read to get the most of the city.
Igreja do Carmo
It’s my favorite church in the city. The reasons are the stunning blue and white azulejos that complement its facade. It’s a baroque church from the 1760s. In front of it, there is usually a market selling various leather goods. This adds an even more unique atmosphere to the entire church with its small square.
The library is inside a building which is more than 100 years old. You’ll be amazed by the curved wooden staircase and stained glass skylight. J.K. Rowling used to come here very often as it became her favorite spot when she lived in Porto as an English teacher. It’s located on the Rua das Carmelitas.
The tower was actually built on an uneven street, so give some tribute to its artists, climb those 255 steps and enjoy the views of the city from above. It’s 75 meters high, and it provides some of the best views.
Then walk alongside the São Bento train station towards the cathedral.
Porto Cathedral – Sé do Porto
Even though the cathedral has faced several damaging events, it still keeps its original structure from the 12th century. The cathedral has had several styles throughout the centuries, from Gothic, to Baroque or Romanesque. It even holds some secrets and mysterious stories. But you’ll have to visit it yourself to hear them.
After your visit, make your way down to the old town and walk through the bustling streets with cafes and shops. Finally, stop at the Claus Porto.
Claus Porto is a local brand for soaps that have been enriching the city with its fragrances for over 130 years. You can see and buy various products and also learn about its history.
Palácio da Bolsa
Palácio da Bolsa is one of the majestic buildings in Porto. Admire its rich sculptures, frescos, tiles, and chandeliers and sit down on its grass in front of it to relax a bit.
After, stop by the São Francisco Church, the last Gothic monument in the city. Then continue to the Ribeira riverside.
Cais da Ribeira
The riverside of Porto and Ribeira district prides itself with colorful houses, lively streets, and delicious food. Take some time to walk through and enjoy its special atmosphere, before you make your way to the Luís I Bridge.
One thing you can’t miss is to walk on the upper part of Luís I Bridge. So from Cais da Ribeira, make your way up to the bridge, walk through to the Gaia district and enjoy the stunning views.
Luís I Bridge
This arched metal bridge opened back in 1886. It was built by German engineer Théophile Seyrig, who cofounded Eiffel Tower in Paris. It’s 45 meters high and connects the Gaia district with the Ribeira district of Porto over the River Douro.
You can walk on the lower and the upper part of the bridge. This takes us to the other part of Porto, Gaia. It’s time to eat one of the best franceshinas, which is a local specialty.
Gaia district is the less touristy one, and it’s the reason alone for the best food and local specialties. You’ll also find one of the best franceshinas in the city in this district. It’s a traditional Portuguese sandwich originally from Porto with cured ham, sausage, and roasted meat, topped with melted cheese and beef sauce all over.
More precisely, I highly recommend you to eat franceshina at the . It’s one of the best in the city. You can have it for lunch and then continue your walking tour. Believe me, after this dish, you’ll definitely need to walk more and digest.
Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
For me, the best views of the city and River Douro were from Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar. It’s located in the Gaia part, and it’s the best place to watch the sunset. Honestly, I was amazed by the beauty from here.
After, you can take the Teleférico de Gaia, which will take you down to the riverside, where Port wine cellars are located. Then, walk on the other riverside and taste some local products at the markets.
Sandeman Museum Cellar
A visit to Porto can’t be complete without seeing one of the Porto wine cellars. You’ll learn about the history of Porto production and its brand, and get to, of course, taste a glass of some of the most delicious dessert wines in the world.
After you can walk on the lower part of the Luís I Bridge back to Cais da Ribeira and enjoy the rest of your evening in Porto.
Go Shopping In Porto
When you have time, make your way to the Bolhão district and do some shopping. I recommend stopping in the Pérola do Bolhão shop. It’s a traditional grocery store in Porto with typical goods such as tea, coffee, spices, nuts, etc. The branding is unique, so it can be a nice souvenir to bring from Porto.
Porto Guided Tour
In bigger cities like Porto, it’s always a great idea to take a guided tour. This way, you’ll learn more about history, hear interesting stories, and have more fun. If you want to do one in Porto, check out the guided tour on electric bikes by Get Your Guide or do a tuk-tuk tour.
If you want to explore the city on your own, a transportation card for 1 or 2 days will be handy. You can get it for 1 or 2 days and explore the entire city with it. Something I haven’t included in this itinerary is Foz do Douro and Matoshinos part of Porto. Still, I highly recommend you see it. For this, you can use the transportation card as well.
Evening Cruise On Douro
Enjoy the Douro River cruise and learn about the giant bridges in the evening. Learn about the importance of the river and how they transport wine from the cellars.
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 2. DAY: PORTO & DOURO RIVER VALLEY
Good morning to Porto. I’ll make the morning for you even better today… because we’ll eat perhaps the most delicious croissant in the world. So if you don’t want to do it now, save it for the afternoon, but make sure you check out that bakery.
Breakfast At Confeitaria Mauricia
For breakfast, I recommend you go to Confeitaria Mauricia. It’s in the Matosinhos part of Porto, slightly far away from the center, but I believe it’s worth getting these croissants.
But enough of food. Let’s explore the Douro River Valley today. We’ll make a day trip through the Douro River Valley.
Douro River Valley Excursion
First, you’ll visit two wineries and taste different wine samples. After, you’ll have traditional lunch and eventually do a 1-hour boat cruise on the River Douro with stunning scenery.
It’s a full day trip and honestly one of the best things to do in the country. Apart from all, learn more about the wine production and the history of this region.
Choose between these two excursions organized by Get Your Guide.
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 3. DAY: PORTO ⇒ VIANA DO CASTELO
Today, we’ll drive north from Porto, visiting a beautiful city full of history and stunning beaches.
In the morning, get into your car and drive up to Viana do Castelo.
Distance Porto ⇒ Viana Do Castelo: 1 hour by car (74 km)
When arriving, you’ll be amazed by the city’s icon, its impressive Santuário de Santa Luzia built on the top of the hill. Drive directly to the city and start exploring.
The city has some of the most unique architecture styles in Portugal. So just walk through the city and see it for yourself.
Sightseeing in Viana Do Castelo
- Praça da República
- Santa Casa Da Misericórdia
- Santuário de Santa Luzia
- Gil Eannes Ship
- Praia da Amorosa
Start your walking tour right in the center of the old town, Praça da República. It hosts a city hall from the 16th century and a beautiful Rennaisance fountain. After, check out the Santa Casa Da Misericórdia with thousands of sculptures. See how many you can count. The building was designed by the same craftsman as the fountain. It used to be a hospital and a church in the past. Nowadays, you can just admire its unique exterior.
The highlight of Viana do Castelo is undoubtedly Santuário de Santa Luzia, with an impressive basilica built on the top of the hill. You can take a funicular that will take you from the city to the top. Or you can walk, which will take about 15 minutes uphill.
The sanctuary was inspired by the Sacré-Cœur in Paris. Admire its huge rose windows, the biggest on the Iberian peninsula, fresco paintings, sculptures, and its altar.
The scenery will leave you speechless. You’ll see the entire city and the Atlantic ocean around you. So take some time to appreciate it. The sanctuary is especially beautiful at night when it’s lightened. Seeing those lights in the city is so magical, so I recommend you go again in the evening, when it’s dark.
Once you’re back in the town, walk through its tiny streets towards the port. Here you have to see the Gil Eannes original hospital ship. It used to support trawlers fishing cods in the waters around Greenland and Newfoundland.
It still has some original equipment onboard, such as x-ray machines. Later in the 20th century was this ship also used for breaking the ice and mail transportation.
Praia Da Amorosa – Beach & Kite-Surfing Paradise
In the afternoon, I invite you to the beach and surfer’s paradise. Get back to your car and drive to the nearby beach, Praia da Amorosa. This beach just blew my mind when visiting it.
When you stand on it, you’ll immediately feel freedom and will be filled with positive vibes. Hundreds of kite-surfers come here to try their latest tricks and train every day. Others come here for drinks, watch them, and enjoy the atmosphere of this beach. And of course, you can also swim. Don’t miss out on walking on the beach, feeling the wind in your hair and the free atmosphere. It’s truly amazing.
In the evening, get back to the city and have some nice dinner in the center or next to the port.
Where to stay in Viana do Castelo: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 4. DAY: FATIMA
Good morning to Viana do Castelo.
Today, we’re visiting one of the most religious and special places in Portugal and the entire world, Fatima. But before hitting the seats in your car, go to the city for breakfast. You still have to try the local specialty, Bola de Berlim. Go to the traditional shop Manuel Natário and buy some for your drive today. Get both vanilla as well as chocolate flavors.
After, start driving again south, passing by Porto. Our destination for today is Fatima.
Distance Viana Do Castelo ⇒ Fatima: 2 hours & 40 minutes by car (267 km)
Fatima became famous thanks to the Virgin Marry (Mother of God) apparition to three shepherd’s children, Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucy, back in 1917. She told them about the Immaculate Heart, Christ’s love towards people, and the rosary. Altogether, she appeared 6 times between May and October that year.
The main character of this story is Lucy, who was trying to spread the message of the Virgin Mary to local authorities, but nobody believed her. They thought she was lying and perceived it as a criminal offense, and wanted to imprison her with the other two siblings. The local priest, who didn’t believe it, told Lucy that he had to see a miracle of the sun. If it’s not gonna happen, he’ll be sure that she is lying about these apparitions.
Lucy told Virgin Mary what happened. So for the people to believe her apparitions, Virgin Mary came for the last time in October and made the miracle of the sun.
Throughout all apparitions, Virgin Mary revealed three secrets about Fatima, about which you can read in another article.
During one of the apparitions, the three children saw hell. This was just an illustration of what it looks like after death if you commit too many sins during your life on earth. This was meant to be a warning to humanity and a message to give people direction on how they should live and behave to each other.
Nowadays, Fatima is one of the most popular religious and pilgrimage destinations globally. So many people, religious and even non-religious, come here to pray.
I only have to admit – this place is truly special and the atmosphere is unforgettable. We slept right below the cathedral, and it was just so magical. You have to experience it yourself. I mean, not the sleeping exactly, just visiting this unique place and its basilica.
Sightseeing in Fatima
- Sancutary of Fatima
- Chapel of the Apparitions
- Museum Home of Jacinta & Francisco
Let’s see what Fatima has to offer and what you shouldn’t miss during your visit.
Sancutary of Fatima
It was here where the Virgin Mary appeared to the three children and where the Miracle of the Sun happened in October 1917. According to the sources, locals standing on the grass saw the sun dancing in the sky. So this is how they finally believed that Virgin Mary came.
Nowadays, it’s the Sanctuary of Fatima with a beautiful Basilica de Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary).
Chapel of the Apparitions
The chapel is in the middle of the square in the sanctuary. It was built exactly on the spot where Virgin Mary appeared. Many people come here to pray and light candles for their wishes and prayers to come true.
Museum Home of Jacinta & Francisco
A short distance from the town of Fatima is the museum of Jacinta and Francisco. It’s inside the house where they lived. Lucy lived elsewhere at that time, but it’s just a few steps from the museum, so you can also visit her house. You’ll experience the rural life of Portugal and what it looked like in the 20th century. Visit the home of three children that will take you back in time into their lives.
Soak up as much of the unique atmosphere in Fatima as you can. Enjoy the evening and walk within the sanctuary when fewer people and the basilica is lightened. It’ll be a special moment of your Portugal road trip itinerary.
Where to stay in Fatima: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 5. DAY: LISBON
It’s time to see Portugal’s capital. Take your time in the morning, have a good breakfast, and drive to Lisbon.
Distance Fatima ⇒ Lisbon: 1 hour & 30 minutes by car (126 km)
Welcome to Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe. You wouldn’t believe that the city was almost entirely damaged by an earthquake in 1755 once you see its beauty nowadays. The city has this traditional and, at the same time, modern vibes that make it so unique.
The city is famous for its black and white stone pathways and public squares. It’s like you’re walking on a stunning stone carpet in the middle of the city. They are officially called Portuguese pavements.
You should also know that you’ll be walking in the ancient Roman city. Romans were the first people who inhabited the city, and there has been a whole underground city center from those times. It only opens to visitors a few times a year. So I hope you’ll be the lucky one to explore it. I wasn’t when I visited the city :D.
Besides, you’ll be constantly surprised by its art street. The combination of ancient buildings with modern street art and graffiti makes the city also very special.
Lisbon is the city of bridges. It hosts the second-longest bridge in Europe, the Vasco de Gama bridge (12 km long). The longest European suspension bridge is also located in the capital of Portugal, the 15th April Bridge, which connects the other side of the land over the River Tagus. It has also become the city’s landmark and symbol.
Speaking about symbols, there is another one Lisbon has, ravens. In fact, Lisbon’s Coat of Arms pictures two ravens holding a ship and guiding it in the sea. And there a many of them in the city alone, which you’ll experience.
Let’s look at what you need to see within the next two days in this wonderful city.
Below, I am giving you suggestions for the top places to see in Lisbon.
Lisbon Card For Free Access
Below, I list all attractions and sights you have to see when visiting Lisbon. If you want to see at least half of them, I highly recommend getting the Lisbon card. With this card, you’ll get free access to these attractions. And the best part of it is unlimited travel on famous Lisbon trams. Even getting to Belem is included in the card, where you’ll visit its famous tower and monastery and eat the most delicious pastel de nata (see day 6. of this itinerary).
You can get the Lisbon card for 24, 48, or 72 hours. So if you follow my itinerary, get it for 48 hours, and you’re good to go and explore beautiful Lisbon.
Sightseeing in Lisbon
- Castelo de Sao Jorge
- Alfama District
- Portas do Sol
- Lisbon Cathedral
- Praca do Comercio
- Santa Justa Lift
- Ride Tram 28
- Praça Luís de Camões
- Nostalgic Tram Ride Calhariz – Bica
- Time Out Market
Castelo de Sao Jorge
The first thing I recommend you do in Lisbon is visit its castle. It’ll give you a basic understanding of Lisbon’s and Portuguese history. Muslims started building the castle until it was conquered by the first King of Portugal back in 1147.
Later, it became Royal Palace for Portuguese kings. When the Spanish Crown united with the Portugal Kingdom, the castle got more of a military function. Learn more about the castle during a tour and enjoy stunning views of the city and sea from it.
After visiting Lisbon’s castle, stay in the Alfama district, one of the oldest ones in the city. Just stroll through its streets and count how many trams you can see. It’s also a great place to hut some souvenirs.
Miradouro Portas do Sol
Miradouro translates to English as a viewing point. And Portas do Sol is one that you have to visit. The views are stunning; you can admire its decorations with azulejos and even a massive tree next to the main street. It’s also one of the best spots for photos in the city. After, start descending to the city.
It’s the oldest church in the city, which has survived several earthquakes. Its official name is Santa Maria Maior Church. Inside, you can explore several Arabic, Muslim, and Medieval remains and a treasury.
Praca do Comercio
The Commercial Square in Lisbon has been the principal trading point of the city throughout history. As other attractions in the city, the square was damaged by several earthquakes and a tsunami.
In the middle, you’ll see a statue of King Dom Jose I, who survived one of the major earthquakes in 1755. One thing you should do here is to visit one of the city’s oldest cafes from 1782. Maybe it’s also time to try your first pastel de nata.
Santa Justa Lift
Walk from Praca do Comercio through the main shopping street. Next, you must try Lisbon’s specialty, pastel de bacalhau (traditional cod pastry). After, continue walking until you reach another important square, Rossio. On the way, you’ll see another famous attraction, Santa Justa Lift. It connects Baixa street (where you’re now) with the upper Chiado district.
It’s officially called Praca Dom Pedro IV, named after the soldier king Dom Pedro IV, whose statue you’ll see in the middle. Rossio itself is the train station, from where you can get to Sintra, but more about it later.
Walk towards the Dona Maria National Theatre and visit A Ginjinha shop after turning left. Here, you need to try a delicious local cherry-like liqueur.
Ride Tram 28
Like San Francisco, Lisbon is known for its traditional yellow tram lines. However, there is one special, the iconic tram, and another symbol of Lisbon.
It starts in the Martim Moniz Square and will drive you to the old Alfama. This ride cannot be missing from your sightseeing list. So from Ginjinha shop, walk to the Martim Moniz Square, hop on tram 28, and make this famous round trip back to the same square.
Nostalgic Tram Ride Calhariz – Bica
After the ride, walk back to the Santa Justa lift, which will take you up to the Chiado district.
Then continue walking until you reach Praça Luís de Camões, where you have to try another Portuguese delicacy – bifana. The best place is the bar ‘O Trevo’.
Make a quick stop there, and then continue to the Bica – Lg. Calhariz. Take the nostalgic tram ride down to Bica.
Congratulations, you’ve seen the major parts of Lisbon. Tomorrow, we’ll finish our walking tour by visiting another important part of the city. But, more importantly, we’ll try our best and traditional pastel de nata.
In the evening, I recommend you go to the Time Out Market and eat some delicious food. If you’re a seafood lover, I highly recommend having dinner at Ramiro Restaurant. Try local seafood specialties such as crab, langouste, and more.
Lisbon Guided Tour
I also suggest doing a guided tour in Lisbon. It played an important role in history, and now it’s your chance to understand it and learn more. You’ll be guided by a local, who will tell you stories and bring you closer to how locals live.
Alternatively, you can also do a walking tour with food and wine tasting.
Where to stay in Lisbon: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 6. DAY: LISBON
Day 6 of our Portugal road trip itinerary awaits us with another important landmark of Lisbon. Besides, you’ll keep exploring Portuguese cuisine and eat the most delicious pastel de nata ever.
In the morning, have a good breakfast, but leave some space in your stomach for the pastel de nata. You’re gonna want to eat them all.
Once you’re ready to explore, head to the city. We’ll visit the oldest part of Lisbon today, Belem. It has a rich history and the best pastel de nata globally (not joking).
How To Get To Torre De Belem
First, take a tram or a metro to the stop called Torre De Belém, which is just 3 minutes walk from Torre de Belem. Alternatively, you can take a tram that stops at the Largo Da Princesa and then walk 8 minutes to the tower.
If you want, you can take a tram to the stop Hosp. Egas Moniz and walk on the river promenade feeling the fresh ocean air until you reach the Torre de Belem. I highly recommend this walk, it’s wonderful. Or you can also rent a bike to get there faster.
Torre de Belem
Torre de Belem deserves special attention from the entire Belem district of Lisbon. That’s why I’ve left it for our second day in the city.
It was originally built as a ship replacement to protect the shore from possible attacks. Later, it became the starting point for all sailors and discoverers of other parts of the world, among which Vasco de Gama was one of the most popular. In addition, for some time, it also served as a prison.
At first, admire the mixture of its Moorish, Mudejar, Romanesque, Gothic architecture, and various symbols of maritime discoveries. Then go inside and tour the tower, learning more about its history and Portuguese ocean expeditions and discoveries.
After visiting the tower, walk towards the monument of overseas combatants and give tribute to the sailors who started their ocean expeditions to other parts of the world. Nearby, you can also explore a local fortress.
Then make your way to the center of Belem and head to the Pastéis de Belém shop.
Pastéis de Belém
Pastéis de Belém is the shop where they sell the best pastel de nata in the world. You can try thousands of them, but no other will taste like these ones in this shop. That’s because they make it according to the traditional recipe, which has been kept secret.
Go inside the cafe, order some pastel de nata with coffee or tea and enjoy. Or take some with you and eat it on the grass next to the tower or in a park nearby.
The monastery was ordered for construction back in 1469 when Portugal was in its best time of the Age of Discovery. It was just after Vasco de Gama, a Portuguese sailor, returned from his voyage, during which he discovered India. Nowadays, you can visit his tomb inside the monastery.
King Manuel I then built it as a gesture of thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary that she kept him safe on this discovery.
The monastery was originally named ‘Monasterio de Santa Maria de Belem.’ It was renamed after the monks, who came as they were invited by the king to pray inside for the country’s future and his successors.
Interestingly, these monks invented traditional pastel de nata. They used a huge amount of egg whites to starch their clothing. That’s how they were left with so much egg yolk and eventually invented this delicious Portuguese treat.
Sanctuary of Christ the King
The statue was built at the request of the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Don Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira. He went to Brazil, and after seeing Jesus’s statue in Rio de Janeiro, he fell in love with it and wanted one in Lisbon, too.
He started fundraising for its construction after WWII. As people were grateful to God for keeping them from the horrors of the war, they donated significantly.
The statue is located in Almada, the other side of the river. You can reach it through the Bridge April 25. Or you can also make a boat trip. Just take the boat from Cais do Sodré to Cacilhas.
To reach Sanctuary of Christ the King, you’ll have to take a boat from Cais do Sondre and get off at Cancilhas small port.
Taking boats from one shore to another is a very common transportation means here in Lisbon. Locals commute to work from one peninsula to the other way by boat. So it’s a nice activity to put on your itinerary as well.
Leave the rest of the day to see things you haven’t had the chance to explore yet and taste as much food as possible. Get the most out of your visit to Lisbon. It’s the last day we’ll stay here.
Tomorrow, we’ll make another great day trip. After, we’ll continue down to southern Portugal, Algarve, its stunning beaches, ocean walks, and incredible scenery.
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 7. DAY: SINTRA
Today, we’ll make a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, the paradise of unique castles and beautiful beaches. We’ll also make it to the most western point in Europe.
So pack something in the morning and set off as early as you possibly can. This way, you’ll make the most of the day. Also, the sooner you’ll be in Sintra, the less touristy it’ll be.
In the morning, drive from Lisbon to Sintra. Alternatively, you can also take a train directly from the Rossio station in Lisbon. However, if you want to visit the beaches and the most western point in the afternoon, having a car will make your trip much easier.
Distance Lisbon ⇒ Sintra: 38 minutes by car (33 km)
Welcome to Sintra, the town that used to play a major political role and hosted a court back in the Portuguese monarchy. Nowadays, it’s considered a romantic town. I would say, a fairy-tale place.
Right from the beginning, it’ll attract your attention with colorful castles full of rich history and stunning views.
During your visit, you can explore the following castles:
- Pena National Palace
- Castle of the Moors
- Quinta da Regaleira
- Sintra National Palace
I highly recommend doing this castle tour right away in the morning to avoid tourist crowds. After, you can head back to the city, have some lunch and continue to Cabo da Roca and Portuguese Riviera.
Pena National Palace
Pena National Palace belongs to the 7 wonders of Portugal. It was built in 1838 by King Ferdinand II in a similar style to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. But Pena Palace is older. It soon became his summer residence. Besides, its Disney outlook, you’ll find many features of Moorish, Rennaisance, and even Baroque architecture.
As it’s one of the most visited sights in Portugal, I recommend getting skip-the-line tickets. You can get these below the image.
Pena National Palace Skip-the-Line Ticket
Avoid standing in the huge line and get your ticket in advance online. This way, you’ll be able to directly access the area with Pena National Palace, including its park.
Castle of the Moors
You can walk further up to the ruins of the Castle of the Moors, which was enlarged after Reconquista. It’s even higher on the hill than Pena Palace, and the views are incredible. You’ll also get a nice view of the Pena Palace from these ruins.
Quinta da Regaleira
This castle was ordered by a Brazilian businessman António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. He mainly focused on a business with coffee and stone. Quinta da Regaleira was soon born during his visit to Portugal, thanks to his stone trading. It reflects his passion for Masons, Knights Templar, and Divination.
During your visit, you’ll explore ornate benches, stone walls, and walk on the spiral staircase leading down to the two initiation wells and sanctums. It has a truly mysterious atmosphere. See what you can find down in the sanctums, where several tarot ceremonies were held in the past.
Sintra National Palace
After visiting the three castles, make your way back to Sintra town, where you can check out the Sintra National Palace. It’s the oldest one in the town and the best-preserved of all. It used to be a residence of royalty between the 1400s and 1700s.
Old Town Of Sintra
Take some time to walk through the old town of Sintra and its tiny cobbled streets. Look for souvenirs and visit small boutique shops. Then, get some lunch before you continue driving towards the ocean.
After lunch, head back to your car and drive to the so-called Portuguese Riviera.
Sintra Sightseeing Tour On Tuk Tuk
Driving tuk-tuk in Sintra is quite common. I did it myself and it was so much fun. If you want, you can do a guided sightseeing tour of Sintra on tuk tuk as well.
Cabo Da Roca
We’ll first visit Cabo da Roca, the most western European point. It’s marked with a big stone monument, with a poem that says:
‘Where the land ends, and the sea begins.’
Watch the beautiful Portuguese coastline, the vast ocean in front of you, and its waves crashing into the steep rocky cliff. Just take some time and enjoy those stunning views. Thanks to such scenery, it’s also been considered as the end of the world.
After, walk towards the lighthouse, that has been there was the Age of Discovery.
Praia da Ursa
What I also highly recommend you visit is Praia da Ursa. Honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful (if not the most beautiful) beaches I’ve visited so far. Even though there are many people, still it’s worth seeing.
The only way to get there is to walk about 50 minutes from Cabo da Roca. You’ll walk alongside the coastline with incredible views before descending down to the beach. Stay until late afternoon, and then make your way up to the cliff again to enjoy the sunset.
We slept on Praia da Ursa when visiting it, and it was magical. Watching the sunset and waking up early in the morning with the sound of waves. After, we went swimming for a while, and it was just an unforgettable experience.
If you want, you can do so as well. Just park your car next to Cabo da Roca and sleep for the night on the beach instead of getting back to Lisbon and staying overnight in the city.
If that’s what you like to do, then just follow this itinerary on the next day, driving directly to the southern coastline of Portugal.
Day Trip From Lisbon To Sintra
If you fancy a little more rest and don’t want to organize a day trip to Sintra yourself, you can take a small tour from Lisbon to Sintra. Check out the best deals from Get Your Guide for a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
With the first excursion, you’ll have a guide, transport from and to Lisbon, and entrance to the Pena Palace included.
The second excursion includes all the above plus also a guided tour of Sintra town and even an entrance to the Quinta da Regaleira.
Both of these excursions will also take you to Cabo da Roca and even to the nearby Cascais, which is another beautiful coastal town. In the evening, you’ll get back to Lisbon. It’s a good value for money with everything included.
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 8. DAY: PORTIMAO
It’s time to head to one of the most popular Portuguese regions – Algarve. Southern Portugal is never missed by travelers visiting the country. Whether it’s for beautiful beaches, sports, stunning cliffs and rock formations, delicious food, or rich history, everybody finds something in this region.
Today, we’ll drive from Lisbon to the southern coast of Portugal. Our destination is Portimao.
I suggest taking it easy today. In the morning, set off and drive directly to the city. Then park your car, check in to your accommodation, and head straight to the beach.
Distance Lisbon ⇒ Lisbon: 2 hours & 55 minutes by car (285 km)
Portimao has those typical beach vibes and is a popular place for vacation. It has a nice seaside promenade with many shops, restaurants, and bars. Its beaches are vast and stunning.
So walk through the promenade, sunbathe, swim, and have some delicious food. In the evening, stop in some restaurant to have dinner.
This day is rather relaxed, and it’s your opportunity to enjoy the Portuguese coast, ocean, and the vibes.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue exploring its beauties.
Pro Tip: Head to the beach early in the morning to walk alongside the coast. The atmosphere is so magical, only a few people are there, and you’ll have the best chance to listen to the ocean waves and enjoy this place to the fullest.
I also recommend you leave the car here in Portimao. The rest of the itinerary you can do on foot (tomorrow) and take trains/buses. It’ll be the best option for you if you decide to do the entire broadwalk tomorrow. See the schedule on the following day.
Where to stay in Portimao: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 9. DAY: CARVOEIRO ⇒ ARMAçãO DE PêRA
When you’re in southern Portugal, you can’t miss walking on the stunning Carvoeiro Broadwalk. It’s a beautiful coastal wooden pathway with amazing views. You can get lost in the limestone rocks and their caves on the way.
This walk starts in Carvoeiro town on the coast and its Nossa Senhora da Encarnação Fort (Chapel of Our Lady of the Incarnation). From there, you’ll just follow the wooden boardwalk until you reach another famous point, Algar Seco. It’s the place where this boardwalk ends, but I highly recommend you keep walking to Benagil Beach.
PRO TIP: I recommend leaving your car in Portimao. From Portimao, take a local bus directly to Carvoeiro in the morning. Today, you’ll just walk alongside the coastline until you reach the destination. On the next day, you can take a train or a bus to our final place on this itinerary.
Broadwalk From Carvoeiro To Algar Seco
The walk from Carvoeiro to Algar Seco is actually pretty short, just 600 meters. But it easily extends for a longer time thanks to those stunning views.
Algar Seco is one of the most admired cliff formations on the southern coast of Portugal. It’s a limestone pinnacle called ‘A Boneca,’ which in English means ‘a doll.’ It’s because the seaside resembles a doll, and the two cave arches form this doll’s eyes. Check out if you can see it as well.
Once you reach Algar Seco, take the stairs down and get lost in those hundreds of beautiful caves with coastal views and crystal-clear blue ocean waters.
Walk From Algar Seco To Benagil Beach
After, continue following the road that is connected to the boardwalk.
You’ll pass several beautiful beaches on the way, such as Praia de Vale Cavo, Praia do Vale de Centeanes, Praia do Vale Espinhaco, or Praia do Carvalho.
While walking, there will constantly be some reason to stop and stare at the beauty around you. The best viewing spots on the way are Miradouro do Hotel Baia Cristal (even with a small table and two chairs, a perfect spot for your picnic), Farol de Alfanzina, and Lighthouse Viewpoint.
This walk is truly one of the best things I’ve done in Portugal during my visit. Officially, it takes between 1 and 2 hours from Carvoeiro to Benagil Beach. So take your time, enjoy those views, and have fun and relax most importantly.
Benagil beach is the meeting point for visiting the world’s famous cave – Benagil Cave. It’s a naturally carved cave with a big eye that allows the sun shine through the rocks into the small beach and the ocean. Unfortunately, it’s a very popular spot, crowded with people and tourists. But still, it’s something you should see once you’re in Algarve.
The best thing you can do is take a boat tour or rent a kayak and visit the Benagil Cave from the ocean. You’ve been enjoying the scenery from the mainland; now it’s time to change and enjoy it from the ocean. So besides Benagil Cave, explore other spectacular rock formations on the coast and even swim for a while.
Kayak Guided Tour: Benagil Cave + Praia da Marinha
I highly recommend doing the following kayak guided tour. It includes Benagil Cave and even the most beautiful beach in Portugal, Praia da Marinha. In addition, your guide will tell you interesting stories and explain the rock formations in detail.
Praia Da Marinha
What I also highly recommend you do is to go to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve, Praia da Marinha. I think there is no reason to further explain why. Just look at the photo below :D.
You can do it in the afternoon for a while, after the walk and Benagil Cave. If you do the above kayak guided tour, Marinha beach is also included.
After, take a taxi or bus to your final destination for today, Armação de Pêra. To make it easier for you, take a bus from Benagil to Armação de Pêra. Praia da Marinha is not very well connected, and getting from there is quite challenging if you don’t have a car.
So I recommend taking the kayak tour of Benagil and Praia Marinha, enjoying both with a guide, and coming back to Benagil. From there, you’ll take a bus to Armação de Pêra.
In the evening, go to the city, have a nice dinner, and then walk on its promenade, enjoying the lively atmosphere and getting some ice cream.
Where to stay in Armação de Pêra: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
Portugal Road Trip Itinerary – 10. DAY: ARMACçãO DE PêRA ⇒ FARO
This marks the end of our Portugal road trip itinerary for 10 days. On the last day, take your time and explore Faro, a lively city with nice bars, nightlife, and great excursions.
Make your way from Armacao de Pera to Faro. You can now either take a train or a bus. Both are great, so just choose based on your preferences.
Distance Armação de Pêra ⇒ Faro: approx. 1 hour & 30 minutes by bus
Faro is the perfect place to end our Portugal road trip. Just stroll through its tiny streets enjoy delicious food and drinks in local bars.
The city has been well-known for centuries thanks to its Ria Formosa lagoon, the natural reserve today. Already past civilizations were interested in the area and established some trade routes around it.
In the 8th century, it was taken over by the Moors. You can still admire their architecture and influence in the city. After, the Christians took over and built cathedrals. The city also became the capital of the Algarve (southern region of Portugal) during the Christian era.
Sightseeing in Faro
- Arco da Vila – entrance to the old town
- Sé Cathedral
- Old Town
- Museum Municipal – learn about the history of Faro
- Carmo Church & its Bone Chapel
I highly recommend checking out the central market with fresh products such as seafood, fresh bread, cheese, and meat. This is how you experience the authentic life of Portuguese people. Be one of them for a while, go inside the market, have a coffee, and negotiate to buy some local products. It’s great.
Ria Formosa Tour
In the afternoon, I recommend visiting the natural reserve Ria Formosa. It’s an area of canals, freshwater lagoons, islands, and marshes.
You can go bird watching, as it has one of the most significant concentrations of aquatic birds in Portugal. In addition, you can take a boat tour and see all kinds of birds.
After, stop at some of the most beautiful beaches and go swimming. Relax and reflect on your Portugal itinerary for a while.
Guided Boat Tour To Ria Formosa
I suggest taking a boat tour to Ria Formosa. You’ll learn a lot about the place with your guide, stop several times for swimming, and will also get to enjoy both of the islands with beautiful beaches, Farol and Deserta.
Where to stay in Faro: My TOP TIPS for Accommodation
This is my Portugal road trip itinerary for 10 days I designed for you. I hope you enjoy Portugal to the fullest with it. Be creative and search for other destinations you might still be interested in. If you don’t have 10 days, do only half of the itinerary.
In case you want to see Portugal’s beautiful beaches, then start in Lisbon and head right to Algarve and do the second hald of this road trip itinerary. If you’re more interested in history and stunning places, do the first part of it. Be flexible and don’t forget that the most important thing is to have fun.
If you are planning to visit Portugal in October, it’s still one of the best months to see it. Check out my article about Portugal in October for the best things you can do.
More Tips For European Travel
If you don’t have a flight from Faro, you can take a local bus back to Lisbon. Portugal is pretty well connected and so you won’t have any problems getting from one place to another.
In case you have more time, head over to Spain and explore Andalusia with my southern Spain itinerary for 10 days. Or choose less places and shorten your trip. Or take my Spain itinerary for 14 days and explore the entire country.
I hop you’ll get the most from your visit to Europe. If you need more inspiration, check out my travel itineraries. And if you want to experience even more adventure, learn a language for travel with me in 7 basic steps.